Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Session Choices: Great Tomes

Clear blue skies gleamed as book lovers of all ages descended upon Austin for the 15th annual Texas Book Festival. Saturday, October 16th and Sunday, October 17th welcomed over 40,000 people to hear over one hundred authors. (Plus 80,000 books were sold) Too many choices, not enough time, and the added bonus of music, book sellers, and other publishing exhibitors.

The stately Capitol building still shrouded in scaffolding loomed large over the proceedings. Various sessions were held in chambers, including the labryinth basement extension rooms. P.J. O'Rourke (latest book Don't Vote: It Only Encourages the Bastards) gave a no shouting rousing speech on free markets, baby boomer responsibility, and political insights, all with his usual sharp witty observations. We were off and running. Writers on Reading featured J.Courtney Sullivan (Commencement) and Dr. Abraham Verghese (Cutting for Stone). Their insight on the process and joys of writing was invigorating. Plus Anchor/Vintage publishing handed out bookbags filled with FREE books. Thank you!

Julie Klausner (I Don't Care About Your Band) kicked off our Sunday morning regaling the crowd with dating stories. Her pop culture references, feminist views, and sheer raucous humor with her infectious laugh had me in stitches. The Not All That Noir session with Lou Berney, Mark Haskell-Smith, and Jonathan Woods showed crime and humor mix well with these quick-tongued witty authors.

These statues salute schoolchildren and the book festival introduced young fans to the love of books. Kids wearing Cat in the Hat hats sat entranced at readings. Others begged their parents for books - money well spent. I was pleased to see parents pushing strollers or following their eager youngsters into the next booth.

On the road home - painted canvas. A session, 110 Degrees in the Shade, demonstrated that for Southwest writers it's all about the sky. Each author - Martha Egan, Carrie Fountain, Tom Miller, and Bryan Woolley - mentioned the love of the land and its role in their stories.
The Texas Book Festival provided education, culture, and inspiration. The written word is alive.

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